Monday, December 22, 2008

After Twelve Years, I Finally Got My Crap Together

Every year I say I'm going to scale back on gifts for the kids and every year, I fail. Because I do this thing. I try to make the number of gifts each child receives even. So I put them in their little designated piles [the presents, not the kids - although, I may be on to something there] and start comparing. And inevitably, I'm off. One will have too many amount-wise or one will have the coolest thing that belittles all the others. I try to figure all this out long enough before Christmas so that I'm not out scrambling at the last minute...you know, with all the men.

[Observational aside: Single ladies! If you want to know where to find men, forget the bar and hit the mall on Christmas Eve. Just sayin']

So while I'm failing at being able to count while I'm shopping; the gift piles grow. Too large.

[Observational aside, part deux: I know the economy is FUBAR right now and those out there that are being hit the hardest by it are all, gee I wish I had your problems. And you know what? I wish you did too.]

And every year I stress that I may have screwed it up and every year I apparently forget that Mr. Farklepants has a huge Christmas fund financial hemorrhage family.

(Farklepants annual Christmas party. And this isn't all of them. I know what you're thinking: there are enough children there to start our own school. Believe me, we know. We're a fertile bunch. In fact, there's a bun in a Farklepants oven hidden in that picture. Hint: not me. It's comforting to know that the family has not dropped the ball on our quest for world domination.)

And those people buy gifts for my children. Usually more than one each. And by the time Christmas Eve rolls around the scene around our tree looks like a Macy's window display. A very gaudy, over-indulgent window display. In other words, it looks like Christmas exploded in our house.

This year I remembered and reeled it in. And this still happened:

Ninety percent of those gifts were not bought by us. Not pictured: gifts from MY family. You didn't actually want to enter this room did you? Because there's only one way to do it and that won't happen until Christmas morning.

P.s. This photo does not do the situation any justice whatsoever. I cannot get an angle on it that really captures the essence of extravagance.

31 comments:

Jen on the Edge said...

My parents do this every year with the grandchildren. They'll have a set amount that they'll spend on the kids. Then they'll manage to get something on sale, so they spent less on that child than the others, so they go buy something else. To keep things fair. But then that throws off the equality of the number of gifts. So they have to even things up. This continues until one of them gives up or their Visa dies a slow and painful death. They never learn.

Manic Mommy said...

Amen, sister! The year we redid the house, we were at my MIL's for Christmas. In addition to drinking heavily, I endulged in a little retail therapy to console myself.

For three years now, we've been trying to pare the pile(s) back down to a reasonable size. Let's see if we're successful this year.

Christi said...

Ugh, I try to get everyone the same number of gifts too and I've way overdone it again. My husband is the one benefiting the most this year.

Baby Favorite said...

I am so envious! My parents and relatives are deceased, so the only gift my kids get from the in-laws is ONE TOTAL because they're included in the family gift exchange. (If you could see the scowl on my face as I type those words!) Have you ever heard of such a thing? Especially coming from a family who is far from poverty-stricken?

Furthermore, their family is the opposite of you (which equals anti-baby-making), so no one has more than one or two kids. Which totals SIX in the entire family, including my two.

Can you tell I love big families? Can you tell I have issues? LOL

Anyway--beautiful family, beautiful tree... the way it SHOULD be.

Stephanie said...

Those presents seem tame compared to my families house on Christmas. There's only 11 of us and you can't even walk in my mom's living room!

Very funny post. World domination...heh.

kate said...

We never put presents under the Christmas tree until Christmas Eve, that way when the kids wake up it's totally overwhelming. I come from a family that splurges on Christmas– it's the one big super gift giving day of the year and we like to make it memorable!

Jenn said...

I understand completely! When I find myself in that situation, I will generally squirrel a few of the "extra" gifts or the "cool gift" away for birthday gifts :)

Burgh Baby said...

Between your family and mine, I think we have enough people to start our own town. We can call it Humplikebunnies because apparently everybody breeds WAY too much. We have had a new baby every. single. year that I can remember.

derfina said...

HA! The men around here wait til Christmas Eve then go to WALGREENS to do their shopping!

Melissa said...

Oh yeah, we have presents around the tree...in the master bedroom closet and in the spare room. I'm so feeling you on this.

And yet, I was out shopping yesterday. Just can't beat some of those deals out there.

Lisa Milton said...

What a great shot. Thanks for posting that one, Tootsie. I'll be kinder the next time we try to pull a family picture off and I lose my mind.

JoeinVegas said...

I remember a big Christmas, we sit around opening gifts one a time so all can see (ask my wife) and we ended up taking breaks for bathroom and lunch. It also slowed things down when the kids played with everything and then had to be found to open the next one.

AGSoccerMom said...

Geeze I thought I was the only one who tried to make the gifts even.







My word verification is OUTTED....

Swirl Girl said...

I can't let my kids know that's how Christmas works!

Karen said...

I do the same thing every year usually with the same result as you - too many gifts! This year we also cut way back. My husband who normally complains about the excesses even said to me last night,"Is that it?!" (I felt so proud). And although our family isn't as bent on world domination as yours appears to be, grandparents & friends will kick in some gifts to the pile too & soon our tree will look just like yours & my husband will once again turn to me and say "I think we need to cut back on the gifts next year".

stephanie (bad mom) said...

I had the most amazing technique revealed to me before I even thought of having children and it has been a blessing - we wrap 3 presents for each kid (works for all gift-giving occasions, really): something to wear, something to read, something to play with. I might put a bunch of books in one gift bag, or sweater & jeans & GAP gift card in another, but the point is they only have 3 things to open.

So you still kinda need to weigh the stash, but it helps with the opening frenzy.

I'm not sure how to solve the "presents for EVERYONE" dilemma, sorry.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Someone recommended hiding all the presents after the kids go to sleep on Christmas Eve - then the parents sit on the couch and drink coffee for hours as the kids tear around the house looking for gifts. I am so trying this!

Mommy2Twinkies-Deb said...

You should see my living room! Same, same same... and half of our presents aren't open yet!

This Mom said...

I am SOOO with you. I know I over did it yet again this year.

Next year I am shopping in October and not buying ONE thing in December.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

I'm still trying to reign in the gifts and my kids are teens. It's slightly better from extended family now - they give gift cards or money (every teen's favorite gift). Still, try as I might ... things always end up being TOO MUCH. And yes, with the economy sucking as it does ... it is not a good thing. NEXT YEAR I'm going to do a better job ....

Saucy said...

Actually, I did reign it in this year. And it looks a little depressing. And I am starting to have second thoughts. Like seriously, there are only about five things under the tree right now.

When I say scale back, I scale back.

Kelley said...

I do the even amount of presents thing and then end up with FAR TOO MUCH and the kids get bored opening.

But it has gotten easier and far more expensive as they get older. Smaller gifts that I had to sell a kidney for.

Luckily the kidneys were not mine.

The Introvert said...

This used to be the scene at my grandparents' house when I was growing up. There were seventeen cousins running around, multiple presents and a personalized stocking for each. I miss those days. And you're right...I do wish I had your problems. Maybe next year :(

Ringleader said...

I keep a spreadsheet going so I can keep track of what I have bought for everyone and see that the 3 kids are "even". I always start shopping early, so I have to do this or else I will forget what I have bought! I'm in the same pickle that you described anyway though- the kids are technically even as far as quantity of gifts- but the quality factor is off- and really- they have 9 gillion gifts to open from grandparents etc- are they really even going to notice? I'm always afraid to find out! Ugh-

kcinnova said...

I've finally convinced my mother that it's okay if the gifts aren't even in number. My kids weren't into the counting, and if they were, I would have put a stop to it. My mom spends $50 per grandkid (she has 10 of those, so it does add up).

When we lived in Germany with 2 preschoolers and a baby, the extended family was so generous that the number of packages under the tree was obscene.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

One year?

One of my kids?

Started crying. She had one less gift than her sister.

She actually counted.

Probably still does.

Poor thing. Tough way to go through life. For her.

Me? Same as you. Try to keep it even. Still.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That's why I don't wrap until Christmas Eve and then I have a return pile.

It's so much easier when they get older--you just give them 1 present that costs between $300-$500 dollars. It's may more expensive, but easier.

Minnesota Matron said...

Tootsie: The Matron's husband has 74 FIRST COUSINS. There are pages and pages of relatives. Polish Catholic immigrants, his grandparents' generation. So the gift giving to all just had to go LONG by the wayside. My kids continue to be spoiled by my mother, who only has five, compared to John's mom, who has sixteen grandchildren. ... .bunnies!

Jennifer H said...

I think I might be tempted to suggest drawing names. Plus, if my kids see this post, they will ask for someone in your family to adopt them.

JCK said...

Big family stuff is so fun. In small doses - like visits and then back to quiet...

marybt said...

You got it all wrong, sister. You WANT to be out on the 23rd and 24th with the men. Do you know why? 1. They don't stand in the middle of the aisle and hem-haw; they pick something and move on. 2. They usually don't have all 14 of their children with them so they take up less space. 3. They pay with cash and don't chit chat with the cashier so you get through the line in record time!

lol.
I love your blog. I've had a great time reading it this morning.